Corsair is a brand that is synonym to the word performance in the PC hardware industry especially if you consider its long range of AIO CPU Liquid Coolers from the Hydro Series. The cabinets are no less and to complete its global domination they came up with the Corsair Carbide 100R which I had the pleasure of reviewing a few months back. Today I have yet another Corsair product with me and this time its the more aggressive looking cousin of the 100R, the Corsair Carbide SPEC-02.
The SPEC-02 is Corsair's attempt to cater to those who want a cool looking cabinet with all the bling intact without throwing away a load of cash.
The Corsair SPEC-02 certainly looks impressive for its price tag of around $70. So before I jump to any conclusions lets take a quick looks at the specifications of this beauty:
In my methodical manner we'll start the review in the following way so you can skip to any portion you deem fit for your preferences just in case you don't want to read the whole review.
- The Packing
- Inside and Out the Carbide SPEC 02
- Testing: Load tests and Noise Levels
- To Buy or not to buy?
The Corsair Carbide SPEC 02 comes in a standard cardboard box packing kept in vertical face up position in contrast to the standing horizontal position that most of the cases come in. This is a move made by Corsair to reduce the price of the cabinet to a bare minimum by reducing the cost of cardboard used but is wisely compensated by Styrofoam blocks that are on either sides of the packaging.
The Styrofoam is thin, but this case is not heavy so there is plenty of shock value to this packaging. The case is actually really lightweight so this amount of foam is plenty for the Corsair Carbide SPEC-02. Its small but very compacted Styrofoam that is really tough to break.
I received mine in a no damage no broke condition so I'll say that the packing can withstand any kind of ordeal during transit that are quite common in India. So I'd consider it as a welcome move by Corsair to keep the money concentrated on the main module and not wasting it on fancy packaging by keeping it simple and efficient.
Also it includes a standard manual for the cabinet, a warranty card and four zip ties along with ample of screws for your radiators, fans, SSDs etc.
Inside and Out the Carbide SPEC 02
On the inside the Carbide SPEC 02 is black coated and has ample of space with a rear 120mm exhaust fan pre-installed along with mounting space for two 120mm fans or a 240mm radiator liquid cooling setup on top. In the front just behind the fascia plate we have the options for two 120mm or two 140mm fan mounts. It comes with a red LED 120mm fan pre-installed in the front which gives the SPEC 02 its signature red Hades like look on the front. For storage Corsair has given two cages for 5.25' optical drives and a cage for installing three 3.5' storage drives along with two for using 2.5' drives.
On removing the rear panel we see that the wire management options are good enough and can support a decent build inside. The removable motherboard back plate is present to ease the user in changing cooling kit brackets as per the need without pulling out the whole motherboard out. For proper wire management its adviceable that you use ribbon cables as you have around 10mm of clearance from the back-plate and thanks to the convex shape you can squeeze in another quarter inch or so of clearance for routing and bundling your wires.The Graphics Card clearance is virtually infinite as you can fit any graphics card available in the market today but the second GPU has a limit of about 280mm or 11 inches which means that big graphic cards like the Sapphire R9 270X Toxic or the Gigabyte GTX 970 G1 gaming edition will not fit inside for a dual CrossfireX or SLI configuration.
Its worth mentioning that if you use air coolers for your CPU then you'll have around 150mm of clearance which can be stretched upto 155mm thanks to the convex side panel.
- Ample of space for a decent configuration.
- Looks elegant and clean with good customization options.
- Can support powerful cards in SLI/CrossFireX configuration.
- The CPU power cable routing hole is a bit misplaced.
- HDD/SSD cages are a bit flimsy.
- No clearance for you to remove a fan connector or RAM modules once a radiator is placed on the top mounts.
At only 493x215x426mm the SPEC-02 is only a little bigger than a few of the mid tower cases we've looked at recently. It also has a full size acrylic window on the left. The window is mounted into a slightly raised area of the case side to mimic the bulge on the right side of the case, thus maintaining the symmetry of the design.
The front fascia has been carved into thick plastic grills that not only give the Corsair SPEC 02 a very aggressive look along with its red LED illuminated fan on the inside but also provides plenty of ventilation to the components resting inside. At the back of this fascia you'll find a non removable layer of dust filter like mesh which in couple with the front grills manage to stop most of the dust. You can easily remove the whole front panel and dust it clean occasionally.
Round the back there's a pre-installed 120mm fan. Corsair have also included a generous seven expansion slots with vented covers. These are removed via external screws pretty much same as the Carbide 100R design. We're guessing it's little things like this that help keep the costs down. There's also a PSU aperture able to accept standard ATX PSUs.
The top has provision for dual 120mm fans or a 240mm radiator mount with a spacing of 15mm. These are not only fully covered by removable dust filters but also are off set by 35mm to provide maximum clearance to the motherboard heatsink and CPU power cord while mounting a radiator. At the bottom the SPEC 02 rests on four plastic feet that are sturdy and give enough clearance for the PSU and another 120mm fan to breath in cool air. This entire facility is yet again covered by another removable dust filter which is more than what one can expect!
- Looks aggressive making it ideal for gaming builds.
- Build quality is good.
- Transparent side window is big enough but still hides the PSU.
- Dust filters on top and bottom.
- Front fascia doesn't have a proper dust filter.
- Bottom feet don't have a rubber padding leaving room for vibrations.
Testing: Load tests and Noise LevelsFor the load tests I manged to fit in the following components inside the Corsair SPEC 02. The build came out to be really clean and roomy.
CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz
CPU Cooler: Corsair H60 liquid cooler
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5" SSD
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB
Case: Corsair SPEC-02 ATX Mid Tower
Power Supply: Corsair CS 750M 750W
Also I kept installed the pre-supplied rear 120mm fan on top as exhaust and kept the front LED fan intact. You can obviously install another 120mm fan as intake on the bottom and one in the front for better air flow. I did manage to mount a 140mm H90 and even a 280mm H110 liquid cooler on the front but that required me to remove the HDD cage completely leaving me with no space to mount my HDD/SSD. This is a noticeable feature as you can do this if you have a 5.25' adapter to convert a 5.25' bay into a combined 3.5' and 2.5' drive bay.
I tested the Carbide SPEC-02 for temperature and noise levels by keeping the CPU at stock frequency and the RAM overclocked at 2133Mhz, running Prime95 64 bit to stress the CPU and MSI Kombustor to stress the graphics card for half and hour and then measuring the temperatures using HW Monitor and Core Temp.
To Buy or not to buy?Well it appears this particular Corsair not only has sails but cannon also, as it's blown everything else in the price range clean out of the water, and scared of a few of the bigger vessels to boot. Basically if you've only got $80 or Rs. 5000 to spend on a case you'd be nuts to buy anything else. With a sturdy build quality, cable management options, ample of dust filters and room for accommodating any CLC cooler in the market today, obviously with a little presence of mind, the SPEC 02 is the case to go for.
The Corsair SPEC-02 is perfect for the home builder who's starting out on a budget and wants functionality, features and quality as well as a well-known, well regarded name on the front, but can't afford the pay the earth for it, preferring instead to focus his hard earned wedge on the components within.
I give it a 9.5/10